By Rachel Chen
Where are you from?
I was born in Michigan. But my family moved to Guernsey, a British island off the coast of France, when I was growing up; and I spent my teenage years there.
What is your education background?
I completed my undergraduate degree at Wheaton College, where I earned a Bachelor of music in piano performance. I later attended the University of Michigan to pursue my PhD in Musicology.
What is your music history background?
I began playing piano at the age of 7, and violin at age 9. Violin was a passion that I carried with me throughout my college years, but piano was always my main focus. Music meant so much to me that I even tried to give my father piano lessons when I was 8 years old.
What inspired you to become a music professor?
It was really my undergraduate music history professor, who taught several of my classes and encouraged me to pursue music history as a career. He was an extraordinary teacher, and I felt like my world was a little bit different every time I walked out of one of his classes. I want to inspire my students the way he inspired me.
What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Helping students to understand and grasp the meaning and significance of the music they are learning and the cultural forces that shaped it. I love to see that “light-bulb moment” when a student suddenly grasps something that s/he has never considered before.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Believe it or not, I love snowboarding and downhill skiing, which I started when I was only five years old. I was home schooled until I attended university, which made it possible for me to develop my interest in skiing at the Swiss Ski School. When I was fifteen, I earned a gold medal in downhill skiing, and I would be happy to race anyone who wants to race me! Other than winter sports, I also have a great love of photography, developed during my time living in Russia for dissertation research.
What is your teaching philosophy?
The most important thing, I believe, is to help students learn content and, going beyond that, to train them in mind and character. To me, the larger goal of teaching is to develop the whole person. I see my role as teaching life and academic skills through the subject matter of music.
What class are you currently teaching here at Furman University?
I am currently teaching three classes, Music History I (Medieval/Renaissance music) for sophomore music majors and two sections of Music History II (Baroque through Romantic music) for juniors,
Why did you choose to teach at Furman University?
I was immediately impressed with the Furman students, their engagement in the classroom, and their interest in discussing and responding to questions. I was also very drawn to the Music department because the faculty was very clear about what they were looking for and their commitment to teaching in a vibrant music program within a liberal arts setting really resonated with me.